Lansing vet recalls weather extremes in Korean War

2014-01-05T18:30:00Z 2014-01-06T19:59:56Z Lansing vet recalls weather extremes in Korean WarJeanette Lach (219) 933-3267 jeanette.lach@nwi.com nwitimes.com

The memories of battle have faded a bit, dates and years not easily accessible in his 81-year-old mind, but Bruce Ross, of Lansing, can still remember what Korea felt like all those years ago.

The extreme temperatures at the 38th parallel are etched into his brain, the hot days and the bitter cold nights.

"You were allowed to remove your shirt (during the day), but you could never remove your flak jacket or helmet," he said.

And at night it was so cold soldiers needed their long johns, parkas and a blanket to keep warm at their posts.

"That was all in a 24-hour period," he said.

Raised in Loda, Ill., in Iroquois County, Ross was 20 when he entered the U.S. Army on Dec. 3, 1952.

He was an outpost observer, searching for the enemy, providing screening fire for patrols and instituting firing missions where needed.

"People back in the States just didn't understand" the realities of the war, he said.

C-ration food, life in a bunker and the discipline required in the Army were definitely not like the comforts of home.

He remembers a time when his bunker got hit, he had to evacuate with "mortar fire and shrapnel coming down almost like rain."

"I thank God today I did not get one single scratch," he said.

Another time, while on outpost observation, he noticed a machine gun nest between two hills, and called for mortar fire. A patrol was sent out and Ross had to give feedback to commanders on enemy positions. After the fight, the hills were obliterated but so was the machine gun nest, he said.

He returned from war without any service-related injuries and several medals, including the National Defense Service Medal, a medal for good conduct, the United Nations Service Medal and the Bronze Star.

More recent depictions of life during the Korean War, such as the former television series "M*A*S*H," do not sit well with Ross.

"I did not like it at all, it was totally nonrepresentative of the Korean War," he said.

The current situation between North and South Korea saddens him.

"The conflict still exists. It's regretful that we can't have harmony among all the nations."

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